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Long-term (1980-2015) changes in net anthropogenic phosphorus inputs and riverine phosphorus export in the Yangtze River basin.


Quantitative information on long-term net anthropogenic phosphorus inputs (NAPI) and its relationship with riverine phosphorus (P) export are critical for developing sustainable and efficient watershed P management strategies. This is the first study to address long-term (1980-2015) NAPI and riverine P flux dynamics for the Yangtze River basin (YRB), the largest watershed in China. Over the 36-year study period, estimated NAPI to the YRB progressively increased by ∼1.4 times, with NAPIA (chemical fertilizer input + atmospheric deposition + seed input) and NAPIB (net food/feed imports + non-food input) contributing 65% and 35%, respectively. Higher population, livestock density and agricultural land area were the main drivers of increasing NAPI. Riverine total phosphorus (TP), particulate phosphorus (PP) and suspended sediment (SS) export at Datong hydrological station (downstream station) decreased by 52%, 75% and 75% during 1980-2015, respectively. In contrast, dissolved phosphorus (DP) showed an increase in both concentration (∼7-fold) and its contribution to TP flux (∼16-fold). Different trends in riverine P forms were mainly due to increasing dam/reservoir construction and changes in vegetation/land use and NAPI components. Multiple regression models incorporating NAPIA, NAPIB, dam/reservoir storage capacity and water discharge explained 84% and 92% of the temporal variability in riverine DP and PP fluxes, respectively. Riverine TP flux estimated as the sum of DP and PP fluxes showed high agreement with measured values (R2 = 0.87, NSE = 0.84), indicating strong efficacy for the developed models. The model forecasted an increase of 50% and 7% and a decrease of 15% and 22% in riverine DP flux from 2015 to 2045 under developing, dam building, NAPIA and NAPIB reduction scenarios, respectively. This study highlights the importance of including enhanced P transformation from particulate to bioavailable forms due to river regulation and changes in land-use, input sources and legacy P pools in development of P pollution control strategies.

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